The evolution of Massachusetts Real Estate Schools and the difference between success and failure

Back in the day (only 5 years ago) real estate schools competed and thrived on where their school and/or their classes were held. The students for these schools generally went to the closest or second closest location so they could pay a lot of money to sit in uncomfortable chairs and listen to an instructor who may or may not sound like their heart was still beating. Don’t get me wrong, there were (and still are) a few instructors out there that really hit a homerun when it came to giving quality and engaging lectures. We’ll call them the outliers.

Since the beginning of continuing education in the real estate industry, agents and brokers generally went back to the same school where they took their pre-licensure course simply because they were satisfied enough with the initial experience that they didn’t have a reason to switch to a new “unknown” school.

Enough talking about the past, let’s talk about the more recent situation that all real estate professionals are in today. In 2010 the Board of Professional Licensure passed a rule that allowed agents and brokers to start taking their continuing education online. The second that news broke, every forward thinking real estate school owner got on the phone with a web developer and said “make me a website. No I don’t care what it looks like, just make sure we can charge their credit cards and offer videos to students”… or something like that.

Many of us experienced these sites first hand. They were poorly built, many times they had broken links or weren’t working properly and the videos were just horrendous. I took a course online where the instructor actually plopped a webcam on the top of his computer screen at his desk while he was sitting in his desk chair with a book on his lap that he read from for the entire 12 hours.  He looked up at the camera 8, maybe 9 times.

While I would like to say that these online schools have significantly improved, I can’t. I can honestly say that I can count on one hand (and still have extra fingers) the number of schools that are actually doing it right. These are the schools that had the discipline to admit to themselves, “wait a minute, our online product is garbage, we should do this better”.

What makes a good online school? The answer is easy yet many real estate school owners just don’t seem to get it or care to get it.
1. A good looking website– The web has come a long way since the 90’s when all you needed was someone who knew html. If you can’t keep up it shows simply by looking at the design of your site.
2. Flawless functionality– When someone clicks a button on your site, it should work the way it’s expected to work.
3. Quality Instruction– Even if everything else is perfect about your website, if you’ve got a lousy instructor, you’ll never be successful. Good instructors are hard to come by but if you can find one, you have almost certainly hit the jackpot.
There are a few other important qualities (like social media, search results and overall marketing) that I’ll write about in other articles posted in the future but I don’t want to give away the farm in our first post.

Keep Me Certified School of Real Estate took a different approach to online education than probably every other online school. We (my partner and I) signed up for every online real estate school to take their online course. Some were downright miserable and one even required you to move your mouse once every 2 minutes or it would stop playing the video because it thought you weren’t watching. That 12 hour course took me 14 hours and an amount of frustration that is hard to explain without using profanity.

To make a long story short, we took a number of other schools courses and made a list of exactly what each one is doing wrong or poorly. Then we sat down and said, “how can we make online continuing education enjoyable for every user that comes to our site”. In every design and development decision we asked ourselves, “is this how our users would want to do it”. If there was any hesitation to answer yes we would scrap that idea and go back to the drawing board. We launched our online continuing education platform at the beginning of 2012 and though we are only a few weeks in to our first month operating, we’re thrilled with the response and feedback from our users.

The web is rapidly evolving and like with anything, if you can’t or don’t want to stay in the loop you might as well pack up shop and call it quits.

Check out our site at www.keepmecertified.com. and if you decide to take our course, we encourage you to send us feedback.  Our user feedback helps us focus on improving/fixing the issues that are important to our users.